The Providence Friars made the trek to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to take on the St. John’s Red Storm on the final day of the regular season. Heading into the day, the Friars were riding a five game winning streak that had seen their NCAA Tournament hopes rise with each successive win. On the opposite side, the Red Storm were hoping to bounce back following their loss to Creighton and finish out with a win to round out what could be considered a successful second year for head coach Chris Mullin.
It would be Providence who would pull ahead, defeating the Red Storm 86-75, giving them a six-game win streak as they head into the Big East Tournament. Saturday’s win also brought the Friars to a mark of 10-8 in the conference standings, and depending on how results go in the Creighton-Marquette game later on, it could bring them to a potential tie for third place. Not a bad turnaround, considering the Friars started off their Big East schedule with a mark of 1-4 and 3-6 later.
As for St. John’s, today’s loss brought them Red Storm to 7-11. At various points during the season, they came close to reaching the elusive .500 mark, but in the end it proved to be a mirage of hope as they dropped their final two. Still though, the Johnnies improved on their win total from a rough season last year and took small and, at times, large steps in building the program.
As for Saturday, on the court the Red Storm had a rough go from the onset. They never appeared to settle into an effective setup to act on their shooting abilities. While there were flashes of fight over the 40 minutes, it was not enough to counter Providence. The leading scorer on the game today for the Red Storm was Shamorie Ponds, who posted 29 points in what was a record-setting day for the freshman.
Ponds entered the game 27 ponds shy of D’Angelo Harrison’s freshman points total, and with his 29 point game he passed it with ease and set a new mark of 545. Joining Ponds in his heroics was Bashir Ahmed, who had himself a well-rounded outing with 18 points and tied the team-leading mark in rebounds (7) with Ponds. Marcus LoVett was the other big scoring option for the Johnnies, as he finished with 12 points.
This trio for the Red Storm scored 59 of St. John’s 75 points.
Where St. John’s faltered, Providence took advantage as the Friars converted 51 percent of their attempts from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point point range. As mentioned they won the battle on the boards. The Friars also excelled with 26 points off the bench and 42 in the paint.
It was a community effort by the Friars, unlike St. John’s who relied on hot hands. Providence presented themselves with a balanced attack and the leader of this pack was Isaiah Jackson who put up 18 points of his own. Joining him in double figures were Jalen Lindsey and Alpha Diallo with 17-point efforts and Emmitt Holt with 14. This grouping scored 66 of Providence’s 86 points.
Kalif Young put up eight points and a game-high 11 boards, putting up a very solid performance of his own. Rodney Bullock was the only player on the Friars today to foul out.
With the regular season over, both teams will now be turning their attention to the affairs of the Big East Tournament. Simply put, the fact that Providence is closing out the season with six wins on the trot bodes well for them this coming week.